Home is Where the Heart is!

Home? What does home really mean? The dictionary says – one’s place of residence, place of domicile, but I think it’s so much more than that simplistic definition.

curious neighbors in our front yard – Cherry Creek State Park, Colorado

I was fortunate to have grown up in a house that my parents owned with a nice yard, nice neighborhood, and have some very fond childhood memories as a result. Once I was no longer living under my parents roof, it wasn’t uncommon for me to still refer to that childhood house as home. I’d quite often say to my roommate, “I’m going home to spend the weekend with my folks”.

Knowing my living arrangement with that roommate was temporary, my heart continued to view my childhood residence as home. In addition to any physical house, I think many of us still view the town or state we grew up in as home.

My “home” in one of many temporary locations – Dillon Lake, CO – this was a fave!

The meaning of home

A home is more than a financial asset or physical structure. Whether you live in a big house or a little house, an apartment or a temporary house, or even a RV, home is a place where you feel that you belong … a place you enjoy sharing with friends and family … a place you connect with because your ideas or attitudes are the same as those of the people around you … a place where you can put your feet up and let out a big sigh of contentment … a place where you can relax and say, “Ah, life is good”.

RVing in Grand Tetons National Park

Another favorite … Home for a week – Grand Tetons National Park

We have a saying in the RV community – “Home is where we park it“. We travel with our houses in tow and have the freedom to change our yard and views on a whim. It’s a glorious way to live, but it’s not without its faults.

Pueblo West Colorado

The house Al and I lived in the longest and raised teenagers in  – home for 10 years.

Al and I moved into our RV on a whim over five years ago, and had every intention of living in the RV for merely a year or two … just until we found a new home base. Over the past five years, we’ve put contracts in on three different houses in various locations, and in each case, we breathed a sigh of relief when negotiations stalled. (hmm, wonder which client stuck their feet in the mud during negotiations? 😁)

Our former sticks and bricks home seen in the distance – photo swiped from our friends Facebook post this past winter. I do NOT miss those Colorado winters.

Do I miss the large custom home in southern Colorado that I designed, generaled, built, and raised my children in? … Nope! As much as I loved that house, and it was home to our family of four for ten years, once Al and I became empty nester’s that house became way too big for just the two of us. Plus, my sense of wanderlust took hold, and I was ready for a new direction, a new adventure, and a change of scenery.

The freedom of RV living is addictive, and clearly, Al and I aren’t ready to change our home scenario anytime soon. We love our RV home and our ever-changing backyard! With that said, we’ll keep looking for that home base, and when we do eventually find it, you’ll be the first to know … well, maybe second … our children should be the first!

Our home – we loved this backyard for five awesome weeks – near Lake Powell

Along with all the fabulous and varying locations we’ve enjoyed calling home over the past few years, we’ve also met some of the nicest people living this RV mobile lifestyle and made some wonderful friends along the way. Friends help provide a sense of home no matter where we’re camped.

This summer, we managed to snag a great campsite in a RV park next to fun neighbors. We adore these neighbors that we’ve lived next to for the past five months, and will be sad, yet excited, to be moving in a couple of weeks.

monsoon season in Arizona

My home for the summer of 2018. Watching storms was part of our entertainment.

And as much as we’re looking forward to the change of scenery, we’re already looking forward to returning to Prescott next summer, if for nothing else, than to harass our dear neighbors 🤣 because yes, we do intend to camp next to these very same people again next summer. Although we realize that there’s a risk they decide to change their housing situation. Run Forest, run!!!

Fairgrounds RV Park

Our home in the background and our neighbors home in the foreground – best neighbors!

Today, some places feel more like home to us than other places. The state of Colorado will always have a special place in our hearts, but it is no longer home. The meaning of the word home has taken on more of a spiritual meaning to us than that of a physical structure or place. Home is where our heart is!

Cave Creek Arizona – hot air balloons routinely flew over our home

Photo challenge – theme – prompt

For this weeks photo challenge, let’s share images of home. What does home mean to you and what does it look like? Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post. I’d love to see images of your home.

Lake Pleasant, Arizona. This place has served as home for weeks at a time

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Photo Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this will serve as a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect!

our home in the desert – boondocking in Quartzsite for a couple of weeks a few winters ago!

Next weeks photo challenge – Architecture …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
 Home is Where You Park It Throw Pillow
Life is Good Adirondack Mug

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Favorite Zoos – Photo Prompt

When my children were little (I mean, really little, like 1-3 years old), we lived in the Chicago suburbs and within an easy drive to the Brookfield Zoo. I don’t remember too much from those visits as I was too preoccupied keeping those two little ones corralled in a double stroller. However, I do know at that time, the Brookfield Zoo was known as one of the top zoos in the country.

By the time my children were in elementary school, we were living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and visiting the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo became a favorite pastime. Long gone were the days of that double stroller, and keeping my eyes peeled on the little kids. I was finally able to enjoy the zoo experience and focus on the animals. Our visits continued into adulthood …

giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Colorado Springs Colorado

My daughter feeding a giraffe at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo – Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is located in an absolutely beautiful place. But be forewarned, the zoo is built into the side of a mountain, and therefore, has some hilly walkways and elevation changes to navigate. Even for those of us used to the 6,000 foot plus altitude, those hills can make even the fittest person huff and puff.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Colorado Springs Colorado

Giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Now that my children live in Phoenix, Arizona, we like to make a day of it and visit the Wildlife World Zoo. This place is huge and constantly expanding.

ostrich at Wildlife World Zoo Phoenix

The first time my son introduced me to his then girlfriend, now wife, was during a visit to the Wildlife World Zoo. It was a great day watching their blossoming relationship.

Me and my son at Wildlife World Zoo – during this visit, I met his then girlfriend, now wife, for the first time.

monkey at the Wildlife World Zoo in Phoenix Arizona

During that particular visit to the Wildlife World Zoo, my focus was more on getting to know the young gal that my son was falling in love with than photographing the animals.

So a few months later, I connected with my blogging pal, Nancy, for a photographic day at the zoo. We enjoyed a very fun day and took tons of photographs, but guess what? I can’t find the images from that day 😥

ostrich Wildlife World Zoo Phoenix ArizonaThis past weekend, I spent well over an hour going through two external hard-drives looking for that file to no avail. I have one more external drive to check which is located at my son’s house.

It’s always a good idea to keep an external hard-drive filled with photographs and important documents off-site at another location.

If I still can’t find those photographs on that external hard-drive, that means Nancy and I will HAVE TO do a repeat. I’m sure neither of us will complain too loudly about a trip to the zoo. Will we Nancy? Maybe we’ll even throw in a visit to the Phoenix Zoo, which I haven’t visited yet.

Drive-through Wildlife Parks

Another great way to see animals up close is via a drive-through wildlife park. Of course, I always prefer to see animals in the wild, but we can’t nor shouldn’t get as close to the animals in the wild as we can in a park or zoo.

The first and only time I’ve visited a drive-through wildlife park was a couple of years ago when we were meandering around the state of Idaho. Yellowstone Bear World was a wonderful way to see a bunch of bears and cubs in addition to a variety of other animals.

Yellowstone Bear World Idaho

Gosh, I’m handsome!

Yellowstone Bear World Idaho

This moose was laying close to the fence, allowing me to get very close to her.

Yellowstone Bear World is a relatively small park and a two hour visit was enough to satisfy my camera. Even though small, I’m really glad I made time for this excursion. Next on my ‘must see’ list is Bearizonia in northern Arizona.

Since my sister and her daughter came to Arizona to attend my son’s wedding this past August, they not only visited the Grand Canyon but stopped in at Bearizonia per my recommendation. They were not disappointed and encouraged me to visit. As many times as Al and I have camped near the Grand Canyon and Williams, something has always come up that thwarted my visit to this wildlife park… sigh! Therefore, it still remains on ‘my list’.

Favorite zoo or wildlife park

Do you have a favorite zoo or wildlife park that you like to visit? For this weeks photo challenge / theme, I’ve chosen the prompt zoo. Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post.

leopard

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt / challenge as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Maybe this will help inspire you to pick up your camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect 🤗

Next weeks prompt – Around Home …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
Flopsie Moose
LEGO Forest Animals
Animal Tote Bag
Grip and Stand for Phones and Tablets

Sunrise – A New Day, a New View

With a strong cup of coffee in hand while watching the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico … Ah, could there possibly be a better way to start a new day? I know it’s one of my favorites; a strong cup of coffee and a beautiful sunrise.

The dawning of a new day brings about a sense of hope, a sense of new beginnings, a fresh start. All the problems of yesterday are just that – yesterday’s problems.

Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico

I love watching a beautiful sunrise, but I don’t always love jumping out of the RV so early in the morning in search of those wonderful views. Summer is particularly difficult for me to photograph sunrise considering the sun graces us with her presence so incredibly early in the morning.

It’s too tempting to stay snuggled up in the RV until a more reasonable hour. I guess that’s why I enjoy visiting the Texas Gulf Coast during the winter months. Sunrise is at a more sensible hour and I have no trouble loading up my travel mug with a steaming cup of strong black coffee, tossing the camera in the truck, and heading off in search of capturing an inspiring sunrise photograph. It’s not uncommon for me to be driving along the coast, sipping coffee, long before the sun makes her appearance.

Dock of the Bay

I find these early morning solo excursions to be refreshing. It’s the perfect way to start my day, and I always look forward to our visits to this special place in Texas. I was so looking forward to repeating our usual January – February Texas sojourn, but after much discussion and lots of hemming and hawing, Al and I have decided to stay in Phoenix, Arizona, the entire winter and forgo the Texas journey … this winter, anyway.

I’ll miss those Gulf Coast sunrises, but now I have the challenge of finding the perfect sunrise view in the desert southwest. Hmm, I think I’m up for the photo challenge! If anyone is interested in joining me on a photographic outing in Arizona this winter, please, do reach out … I love company and exploring new locations.

sunrise over the bay

I will miss those coastal views and shore birds, but I look forward to embracing new views, new photographic challenges, and meeting new friends. A new day, a new view, and a new adventure … bring it on!

For this weeks photo challenge, let’s share images of sunrise. Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post. I’d love to see your favorite sunrise location.

sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico

Wandering Wednesday –

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt / challenge as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect 🤗

Upcoming prompt –  Zoo …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
Travel Mug
Camping Coffee Mugs
French Press Coffee Maker
365 Best Inspirational Quotes: Daily Motivation For Your Best Year Ever

Reflections of Life

With summer coming to an end, I find myself in a reflective mood. Maybe its the overnight crisp cool air that’s reminding me that summer will soon be coming to an end. Perhaps I’m not relishing the change of season that has me feeling rather melancholy today. The summer seemed to have whizzed by, and now fall is just around the corner… sigh! Although, looking on the bright side, who doesn’t love fall colors? But clearly, I’m not ready for the change … just yet, anyway!

Reflections at Steamboat Lake Colorado

Steamboat Lake, Colorado

Perhaps it’s this nasty summer cold that I can’t seem to shake that has brought about my somber mood, or perhaps it’s a combination of a bunch of things happening in my life right now. I guess today, I’m feeling more like a Debbie Downer than an inspiring Ingrid, and for that, I apologize, but we all have our down days, don’t we?

See, I’ve told you before, this RVing gig isn’t all rainbows and unicorns! Nope, it’s still life with all its normal ups and downs.

Grand Tetons National Park

Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

And right now, life is a little on the down side for me. Quite frankly, I haven’t felt like myself all summer, and have barely touched my camera which is, of course, uncharacteristic of me. But life happens, things change, and we all get older. This too shall pass, and witnessing beautiful scenery always helps improve my mood.

Corpus Christi Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

The month of August brought about some major changes in my life … some good and some not. My son got married (which was good, considering everyone couldn’t stop smiling the entire evening), I had a milestone birthday (which I prefer not to be reminded of considering I stopped having birthdays years ago 😁), and I lost a sweet RVing friend (loss is always sad). But the most difficult moment for me this month was loosing a beloved family member. I’m still processing that one!

San Diego California

San Diego, California

Although I’m feeling rather somber and down today, I can’t help but smile as I gaze upon these images. Each photograph evokes a fond memory and reminds me of some of the amazing places AND people that I’ve been blessed to have encountered, and that makes me happy. Beautiful photographs and memories always lift my spirits.

reflections at Watson Lake Prescott Arizona

Watson Lake, Prescott, Arizona

I love landscape images with water reflections. It’s probably one of my most favorite things to capture on film (rather on media card, but that just doesn’t sound right, does it?) Yep, there’s something about a calm body of water reflecting the landscape that captivates my attention, refreshes me, and reminds me that life is good!

reflections at Steamboat Lake Colorado

Steamboat Lake, Colorado

For this weeks photo prompt, I’ve chosen the theme “reflections“. Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post.

The word reflection pertains to more than a reflective image. It also means serious thought or consideration. Perhaps there’s a fond memory you’d like to share along with a reflective photograph. We all have our moments in life where we need to slow down, take a deep breath, and reflect on life … reflect on what’s important and what isn’t. I warned ya, I was in a reflective mood today 😏

Beach Living along the Gulf of Mexico

Fulton Beach, Texas

I’m sure as my head clears from this annoying cold, my state of mind will improve, and eventually, I might even share a photo or two of my son’s wedding which turned out beautifully by the way. Until next time … happy shooting!

Oh, and I promise to be in a better mood next week 😁 After all, next weeks photo theme is Sunrise. How could I not be in a good mood looking at inspiring photographs?

reflection

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo theme as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Maybe you just need a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect! 🤗

Next weeks photo theme is Sunrise …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss
Zen Reflections Juniper Bonsai

Theme – Black and White Photography

I’ll admit, I’m usually not a fan of Black and White photography, but some images actually look better in monochrome. There’s something that changes about the mood of a photograph when colors don’t distract the eye.

Black and white photography

I personally feel Black and White images have a moodiness about them … sometimes a sadness or mystery. Perhaps it’s because I’m a huge fan of color … color in all facets of my life. I’ve always decorated our homes with a colorful palette, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than a beautiful field of wildflowers in varying colors. Yeah, you can’t give me too much color!

With that said, every now and then, it’s good to step out of our box, and I’m really stepping out of mine with this monochromatic post.

Black and White landscape photography

Going through my archives, I specifically looked for photographs that already seemed somewhat monotone to see how they’d look without any color saturation.

After a little peaking and tweaking, I think I found some photographs that might actually look better in black and white than they do in color … maybe!

Texas Gulf Coast

Texas Gulf Coast

What do you think of the images posted? Do you enjoy Black & White photography? I still have mixed emotions about these photographs. I haven’t decided if I like them better in color or monochrome.

For this weeks photo theme, let’s share Black & White images. Feel free to share a link in the comments below so we can see your photographs or link back to this page on your post.

Black and white photography

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday, I post a different photo theme as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this prompt will serve as a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy 🤗 share and connect!

train tracks

Upcoming prompts – Reflections, Sunrise, Zoo …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
Black & White Photography: The timeless art of monochrome in the post-digital age
Kindle E-reader – Includes Special Offers

Gardening in Different Climates

There was a time when I enjoyed gardening and yard work. My interest began when Al and I were newly married and we purchased our first home in the Chicago suburbs. I started my gardening education by planting annual flowers in the spring, a few perennials during the summer, and by fall my focus was on bulbs. I adore tulips and hyacinths!

As my garden interest grew, I took some perennial gardening classes at the local community college and started adding beds of perennials to our large yard. Illinois is known for its rich farm soil, so even a gardening novice like myself could find success and have things growing without much attention. That is, if a full-out war with the local cottontail bunny rabbits could be averted.

Denver Botanical Garden

Denver Botanical Garden

Trouble in the garden

When we moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, everything I thought I knew about gardening was quickly rendered useless. All of a sudden, I found myself living in an arid climate with an elevation over 6,000 feet, and things did not grow as easily as they did in Illinois.

After many perennial and bulb failures, I switched to vegetable gardening. I thought I might have better luck growing veggies than flowers, but that too, proved to be a challenge. Eventually, my interest in gardening waned.

And now that we live in our RV, gardening is no longer an option. Oh, I tried the whole planter thing last summer. I thought it would be wonderful to enjoy some home-grown tomatoes or some fresh herbs, but the intense sun and heat in Arizona were not kind to my plants. Another gardening failure by yours truly. Not to worry, the planter pots were quickly filled with flowers purchased at Hobby Lobby 🤦‍♀️🌻😁

gardening

My son with my mom in my parents large and successful garden in Illinois. Photo taken 7 years ago when my mom was still with us.

Illinois has some of the best dirt

I’ve never had the kind of gardening success that my mom and dad enjoyed. Every spring they would look forward to returning to their home in northern Illinois after their Texas Gulf Coast winter sojourn in their Motorhome. They were eager to get the earth tilled and the garden planted. Since their harvest was always way more than they could consume, they would share their bounty of vegetables with delighted neighbors.

I used to time my return visits to Illinois based on their garden. Ah, such fond memories!

Al’s side of the family used to live near Rockford, Illinois. If you’re ever in this part of the state, I highly recommend a visit to the Anderson Japanese Garden. The grounds are tranquil and beautiful and the restaurant tasty. More than once, we’d stop for breakfast or lunch at the restaurant and forgo touring the grounds if we didn’t have time.

Jumping into yard work

Monday night, our son called Al. In a somewhat frantic voice, he informed his dad of his failing water heater and was hoping Al could help. Our son has been working well over 60 hours a week at his job in management plus helping his soon to be bride with wedding day details. To say he’s stressed these days, would be an understatement.

So without hesitation, yesterday morning Al and I hopped in the truck and took the 85 mile drive from Prescott, Arizona, to our son’s home in Phoenix to deal with the leaking water heater.

As soon as we pulled up to Logan’s house, I noticed all the weeds growing up between the rock landscape. Oh don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t so bad that the homeowners association had sent a notice …. yet, but in another week or two, I assure you, he’d be receiving a “take care of your weeds” notice. After all, it is the monsoon season in the desert and considering Phoenix has received a fair amount of rain lately, everything is growing including weeds. Actually, the moisture is very welcome!

Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona

Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona

With that said, the cactus are happy and touches of color from wildflowers dot the landscape.  It never ceases to amaze me what will grow and thrive in such a harsh and unforgiving environment.

So while Al was assessing the problematic water heater, I went to work pulling weeds. Now if my son were home, he would never have allowed me to do this. He usually hires out the yard work, but I knew he was too busy to even give the yard a thought and call the landscaper.

The job of pulling weeds didn’t take me long and was relatively easy, BUT the temperature was already over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. After about 20 minutes of either bending over or squatting, I was done! It was as good as it was gonna get by me.

There’s still a couple of areas that could use a tad more attention, but those areas are on the side of the house and not as easily noticeable.

The heat was brutal and for a gal that doesn’t normally sweat (I merely glisten 😁), I was sweating like a pig and light-headed. (Do pigs actually sweat? Wherever did that phrase come from? 🐷)

But hey, it’s a dry heat…. seriously? … even an oven is a dry heat!!! Yeah, the desert can be a dangerous place. However, it did feel good to accomplish the yard work and have the yard looking more polished.

By the time our son got home from work, the water heater was replaced and the front yard was looking good. Logan was grateful beyond words, and some serious stress was lifted. After a successful and eventful day, an exhausted mom and dad headed back up the hill to Prescott at a higher elevation where temps were almost 20 degrees cooler.

Denver Botanical Garden

Denver Botanical Garden

Garden or Gardening – this weeks theme

Today I reflect on the yard work I did yesterday. I don’t miss it. Quite frankly, I don’t miss gardening either, but I do miss seeing a beautiful garden of flowers. That’s when it’s time for me to visit a Botanical Garden or Arboretum. I appreciate the labor of love that goes into the design and care of a garden.

For this weeks photo theme, let’s share images and/or tales of gardens or gardening. Do you have a favorite garden you’ve visited or do you enjoy the task of gardening? Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your post.

Denver Botanical Garden

Denver Botanical Garden

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo theme as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Perhaps you could use a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy 🤗 share and connect!

Upcoming prompts –  Birds, Black & White, Reflections …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
 9 Piece Garden Tools Set
 White Ceramic Planter Set / Kitchen Herb Garden

Cheesecake Cupcakes and a Wedding

With the impending wedding less than two weeks away, final preparations are in full swing. Oh, what wedding you ask? Did I not mention, my son is getting married in mid August? Yes, exciting times for us around Arizona!

Although, Al and I had several reasons for not traveling outside of the state of Arizona this summer, the number one reason to stay somewhat close to Phoenix was the wedding. Being only an hours drive away from Phoenix has worked out perfectly, and I’ve been able to be included in any and all wedding festivities and preparations.

yellow rose

Even though the children live in Phoenix, the actual wedding venue is on a ranch in Skull Valley, just west of our RV Park in Prescott, Arizona. Thus, the location of the wedding is rather convenient for Al and me, but then again, we did plan accordingly 😀

I haven’t really had much involvement in the whole process. The bride seems to have everything under control, but I’ve been around to attend dress fittings, doing a tour of the venue, and a few other events. The one thing the bride did ask me to do was bake my son’s favorite dessert for the wedding.

dessert tray

This is a dessert tray I took over to a friend’s house last fall. All made by yours truly!

Instead of a wedding cake …

You see, the bride and groom don’t intend to have a big wedding cake. Probably just a little one for them to cut for traditional purposes. Instead of serving guests a slice of wedding cake, they’ve chosen to have a dessert bar for their guests so guests can enjoy a variety of desserts. For this, the bride has enlisted the help of several people.

easy cheesecake cupcakes recipeWith that said, I’ve been asked to make my famous cheesecake cupcakes for the wedding. My son loves cheesecake. It’s his favorite dessert.

I used to make him a yummy New York style cheesecake, but it was always a great deal of work and a tad more challenging to make in my little RV kitchen.

Then I discovered an easy recipe for cheesecake cupcakes, which my son enjoys equally as much. These are so much easier to make than a big cheesecake, especially in the RV.

I didn’t think twice about saying yes to the bride when she asked me if I would make my son’s favorite dessert for the wedding … until … until … until she told me around 90 cupcakes should be about the right amount 😲 Say what?

Okay, I’ve adapted to working in my little RV kitchen and can put out some amazing meals and baked goods. Quite frankly, with a little organization, anything that can be made in a sticks and bricks dwelling, can be made in a RV, but now we’re talking about production … large quantities. No, the RV wouldn’t work. Sure, I could actually make them all in the RV, that’s not the problem. Cheesecake needs to be refrigerated, and therein lies the problem. You know how big my refrigerator is? Six (6) cubic feet! Yeah, that’s small. Let’s compare … how big is yours?

easy cheesecake cupcake recipe

production at daughters place

I needed to come up with another plan. That is, after trying logically to enlighten my future daughter-in-law on the wisdom of serving a chilled dessert like cheesecake at an outdoor wedding in the middle of August … I was met with a blank stare. Ah, brides!!!

Cheesecake it is, and for plan B, I enlisted the help of my daughter. I still haven’t totally figured out how we’re going to keep these little cheesecakes chilled at the outdoor wedding venue, but I have a few possible ideas swirling in my head.

So, a couple of weekends ago, I took the 90 mile drive to the Phoenix valley to spend the weekend at my daughter’s place and dive into the baking production challenge.

She and I always have so much fun spending a weekend together. However, during this visit, we were on a mission and the baking task at hand took precedence. Oh, not that we didn’t have fun … we did indeed. There was plenty of laughing and shenanigans in the kitchen all the while binge watching “Nailed It”. We had to keep motivated, and the baking show did just that!

Nailed it Pinterest fail

Happy birthday Daughter – my Pinterest fail – it’s the thought that counts – Nailed It!

My daughter recently discovered this Netflix original baking show and immediately thought of me. Seriously, if you have never heard of the show, I recommend you Google images of Nailed It, and you too will laugh your a*s off. She thinks I’d make the perfect contestant with my many a Pinterest fail … ah, my baking endeavors and failures 😏

Whew! Five exhausting hours later – success!  We had the cupcake containers filled with the requested 90 cheesecake cupcakes. Now it was time to take them over to son’s house to be stored in his deep freezer. The decorating on top of the cheesecakes will be done the morning of the wedding. After all, I have nothing else to do the morning of the wedding other than decorate 90 80 cupcakes 😏

The cupcake container was so heavy that Ashton and I decided to weigh it. Oh my gosh, almost twelve (12) pounds of cupcakes!!!

recipe for easy Cheesecake cupcakes

We weigh the cupcakes – nearly 12 pounds!

While I lead the way carrying my pans and utensils down the outdoor apartment steps to load into the car, Ashton followed carrying the cupcakes. She had gone down maybe four steps, when I heard some very unladylike exclamations loudly uttered. I didn’t need to turn around to know what had happened, but I did need to know the extent of the damage. The cupcakes were so heavy that one of the container clips on the side gave way. (Note to self … in the future, do not carry by the handle but rather cradle in arms holding from bottom. Do not trust the clips to hold. Lesson learned!)

Although Ashton was on the verge of tears, I quickly calmed her concerns and gathered up the tossed cupcakes. We returned to her apartment to see what I could salvage.

what to bring to a social gathering

This plate of desserts made it successful to a social gathering!

Turns out about ten of the cheesecake cupcakes were not salvageable to serve to wedding guests. The main problem was the shape. Only two had actually touched the ground while the others remained in the container, but ended up either upside down or smashed to one side. The ones that were still slightly warm were now misshapen and not very pretty … tasty, but not pretty.

I gathered the rejects and placed them on a paper plate, and with a sharpie, I marked the paper liners of the two cupcakes that had touched the ground. This plate of rejects would return with me to the RV. The rest of the cupcakes eventually made it safely into my son’s freezer where they await the big day.

With the cupcake challenge behind us, next on our list was to go to the liquor store and purchase the wine for the wedding which Al and I, parents of the groom, had offered to do. With the wine loaded in my backseat and then dropped off at son’s place, Ashton and I returned to her apartment with a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio for ourselves and a healthy take-out dinner order from Panera Bread. We were exhausted and needed an evening of fun and relaxation.

The rest of the evening was spent laughing, drinking, and eating while we watched a combination of Nailed It and comedian Ali Wong. I’d say we had a very successful and entertaining day in spite of the little mishap on the apartment steps.

Between Al and our RV Park neighbors, the reject cupcakes were devoured in short order with requests for more rejects. And to think, my daughter was going to throw them away! They may not have been pretty, but they were still very tasty as evidenced by their quick disappearance and request for more .

Recipe for my dessert contribution to the wedding

Easy Cheesecake Cupcakes

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Cheesecake Filling
2 – 8 ounce packages of softened cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
easy cheesecake cupcake recipe2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons melted butter

Directions – Turn oven on to 325 degrees.
Crust – In a food processor, grind graham crackers into crumbs. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs with sugar. Add in melted butter. Using a spoon, combine until all crumbs are coated with butter.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners (do not use foil liners) – 18 cupcakes. With non-stick cooking spray, lightly spray paper liners then add about 1 Tablespoon (or slightly less) of graham cracker mixture to each liner. Firmly press crumbs down.

Filling – In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared graham cracker muffin tin. Fill about 3/4 full.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until filling looks baked. Cool completely before decorating. This recipe makes about 18 cupcakes.

Decoration
Top with buttercream frosting and a teaspoon of strawberry or blueberry preserves or  instead of frosting, top with strawberry or blueberry preserves and whip cream.

Recipe by Ingrid at LiveLaughRV.com

Tips for making these cheesecake cupcakes

1.  Organization is tip number one, especially when working in a small kitchen.

2. Use a Tablespoon to measure out the graham cracker crust into the cupcake liners to try to get an equal amount into each well.how to make easy cheesecake cupcakes3. Use the top of a wine bottle to firmly press down the graham cracker crust. Of course, we washed the top of the bottle well before using. Perk … drink and enjoy when done using the bottle 🤣
recipe for cheesecake for a wedding
4. Cool the cheesecakes completely before decorating or moving them to a new location. Do as I say, not as I do!

Final thoughts …

With the groom’s mother (me) doing her part for the wedding, let’s hope Mother Nature does hers and cooperates by giving us a reprieve from the daily afternoon thunderstorms that we’ve been experiencing since early July.

I don’t know why, but the bride and groom didn’t share my sense of humor when I told them my rubber muck boots and raincoat coordinate with my dress nicely and dad (Al) intended to bring his fishing waders just in case. Hey, when ya live in a RV, as Al and I do, one is always prepared for adversity … it’s part of the RV adventure!

Arizona wedding venue

Let’s hope the monsoon season takes a break for us to enjoy this setting for the ceremony! Photo taken during the winter … foliage is much prettier now especially after all the rain!

(affiliate links)
Sunbeam MixMaster Stand Mixer
 Nonstick Carbon Steel Muffin Pan – 2-Pack


Silicone Spatula Set
Wonder Woman Adjustable  Apron

RV Extended Warranty – Should I get One?

With all the repairs Al and I have done lately on the RV, we’ve asked ourselves many times if perhaps we should have purchased an extended RV warranty. It’s an important question every RV owner should ask themselves. Some RV repairs are easy, but many are difficult and expensive.

extended RV warranty and why you need oneRVing is at an all time high and with higher RV demand, the manufacturers are cranking out production at a record high number.

With RVs being rushed down the assembly lines, the quality of the product has slipped and so has customer service.

Once that one year manufacturers warranty is up, RV owners are left to their own devices dealing with failing components.

It’s not a matter of if your RV will need repairs, it’s a matter of when. The first time we blew a tire on our 5th Wheel Trailer, it took out our waterlines and did some body damage. Oh, what fun that was!

This is a sponsored/affiliate post!

Buying a RV Extended Warranty is Like Buying Insurance

An Extended Warranty is very similar to purchasing an Auto Insurance Policy. We never plan on getting into an accident. As a matter of fact, I think we’d all agree that we’d prefer not using that insurance. Yeah, no one wants to get into an accident, but when we do, thank goodness for that insurance.

replace a RV toilet

A new toilet – June 2018! Our 3rd one in seven years. First one replaced during manufacturers warranty

RV components will fail, and when that happens do you have the knowledge, tools, and ability to fix your RV yourself or do you need to seek professional help?

Al and I are extremely handy and quite capable of working on our RV ourselves, but then again, we own a basic RV with few bells, horns, and whistles.

Even with that said, there are some things beyond our capabilities, and we know those more difficult fixes are expensive ones that will need to be addressed by a professional.

Having an extended RV warranty can offer peace of mind just like any other insurance policy … we hope to never need it, but when we do, we’re very glad we have it.

camping at Lake Powell

Reasons to buy a RV Extended Warranty

  • Complexity of the RV – The bigger and more expensive the RV, the more difficult and more expensive the repairs will be.
  • Big dollar repairs – RVs are full of many specialized components that can quickly add up to thousands of dollars in replacement costs not to mention the cost of labor.
  • Peace of Mind – having an RV repair emergency fund is crucial but knowing that account wouldn’t be depleted during a major repair offers peace of mind.
  • Resale Value – If you aren’t sure how long you intend to keep the RV, a transferable warranty may make your RV more marketable.

RV Extended Warranties and why you need one

Should I buy an Extended Warranty for my RV?

Depends! We’ve spoken with many RVers via our travels and via this blog who have shared their horror stories with us about big dollar repair costs on their RV … RVs that are less than five years old. Imagine the cost of things like failing slide outs, cracked waste tanks, bent/broken frames, refrigerators and A/C units that won’t cool, and the list goes on.

Full-time RVing costBefore we bought our new 5th wheel, we owned a truck camper that we also purchased new.

Shortly after the manufacturers warranty ran out, the camper fridge stopped working. The repair and replacement cost was over $1000. Yeah, over a grand for a little RV refrigerator in a simple truck camper.

Another costly situation happened to our 5th wheel when our waste tank cables broke during year two of ownership. Amazing what will break shortly after the manufacturers warranty expires.

So, should you buy an extended warranty? Again, depends! How big is your emergency fund? Do you have the wherewithal to service the RV yourself? We have several RV acquaintances that swear by their extended warranty and have said the warranty paid for itself. Knowing what I know now, we’ll definitely consider buying an extended warranty when we purchase our next RV. Isn’t 20/20 hindsight wonderful 🤔

RVing Grand Tetons National Park

Dealer sold warranties are money makers for the dealer

Many RV dealers will try to sell you an extended warranty when you buy your RV from them. Be sure you shop around before buying any warranty. Some dealer warranties are backed by the dealership itself and require you to get all the repairs done at that very shop … not very convenient when traveling across the country. Dealer-sold warranties are usually more expensive and less comprehensive than any warranty you can get externally. So, you’ll definitely want to shop around.

Some things to keep in mind when shopping for an extended RV warranty –

  • Understand transfer and cancellation policies
  • Know who’s backing the warranty
  • Are you able to use any repair facility
  • Verify any restrictions or limitations
  • Check the reputation of the warranty company
  • Understand deductibles, claim procedures, and term limits

Who do most RVers recommend?

A name that keeps popping up with positive reviews is Wholesale Warranties. We have several friends who’ve purchased an extended RV warranty from them and have been extremely pleased and more than one has said the extended warranty paid for itself.

What makes Wholesale Warranties a leader in the industry

Wholesale Warranties is dedicated to education and customer service. Their RV Warranty Specialists are fully trained on helping customers find the best policy for them, how to buy RV extended warrantyat the best price. With access to several different warranty companies, levels of coverage, and payment plans, they seek to educate the customer on the options available to them, and eventually help them narrow this down to the perfect policy to suit their needs.

Wholesale Warranties always provides customers with a full copy of the terms and conditions of their contract prior to accepting payment for a policy, and is dedicated to transparency. They want their customers to know exactly what they’re getting into, and this includes what they can expect to be excluded in their policy.

Wholesale Warranties does not simply disappear after the sale of a policy. They have a dedicated internal claims staff that is available to customers at any time during the life of the policy. Their claims specialists are happy to assist customers with any questions they have during the claims process, including facilitating communication between the warranty company and the repair facility, and addressing any questions about approval or denial of a claim. They stand behind the products they sell, and want customers to get the most out of their policies.

RV friendly roads or not

Oops … Not an RV friendly road, huh! 🙄

Wholesale Warranties is more than just RV Warranties!

They recently launched an RV Repair Facility directory called RV Repair Direct, where customers can find and rate mechanics in their area. This site also allows Wholesale Warranties customers to submit their information if they experience a non-emergency breakdown, and their internal claims staff will find a reputable repair facility or mobile repair technician that is able to complete that repair for them.

Final thoughts about an extended RV warranty

Steamboat Lake ColoradoWhen shopping for an extended RV warranty, you’ll want to evaluate where your concerns lie. Are you mostly concerned about a catastrophic failure or concerned about the whole RV?

Knowing what type of RV repair bills you can and cannot afford will help you choose the best coverage for your personal needs.

If you are worried that RV repairs might blow your travel budget, or are just interested in getting a bit more information, you can click here and a warranty specialist from WholesaleWarranties.com will be happy to assist you. Mention that you are a Live Laugh RV reader and use code D-LLRV for the best price in extended warranties. Happy trails!

RV extended warranties

(this post contains sponsored and affiliate links)

1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die
The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go

Carrot Cake & Food Photography

I enjoy all kinds of photography. It’s a hobby that I’m passionate about and continues to challenge me in more ways than I ever imagined. I think my passion for photography stems from my father. He was an avid photographer during his younger years and was even a professional photographer for a short time after WWII.

chipmunk eating

Time to eat!

Although my dad doesn’t understand the technical side of digital photography, he certainly understands the concepts and workings of a camera. Even at 91 years of age, he and I are able to talk about things like aperture, shutter speed and depth of field. Yes, I’m very fortunate that dad still has a brain as sharp as a tack. And sharp enough to criticize my photographs 😏

From time to time, I’ll print out some of my blog posts as well as individual photos, and send hard copies to my dad. He loves these snail mail packages. After he’s had a couple of days to review the photos, he and I will talk about them via a lengthy phone conversation. Although his vision isn’t as sharp as his brain, he’s made his opinions very clear …. he does not like my food photographs.

Best carrot cake ever

Best carrot cake ever!

Well dad, neither do I 😆 Never in a million years did I think food photography would be so difficult and frustrate the heck out of me. Challenging is an understatement! Some people have a knack for cooking, food staging and making their images look appetizing and some folks don’t. We’ve all seen those less than stellar food photographs posted on social media 🤢

And then there are those who can compose in minutes and share a lovely shot … like my daughter, who manages to take awesome images with her phone and share on social media – Tea Party anyone!

Tea Party at the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree Arizona

My daughter shares great pics of food on social media. Here she is at the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree, AZ. We had a fun ‘Tea Party‘.

Yeah, food photography is much more difficult for me than I ever imagined. And to think, I thought bird photography would be more challenging … not! With birding and landscape photography it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Nature does the staging and lighting for you.

With food photography, I first have to make the food which in itself can be a challenging task in a RV. Then I have to find the location with the right lighting and stage the scene. Then it’s time to find the right angle. Geez, by this time, I’m ready to snarf down the food and screw the photographs. And when we go to a restaurant, I rarely think about taking a pic of my food. When I do? 🤮 Let’s just say, not worth sharing. Once again, I’m usually too eager to eat the food than I am on making a photograph of what was just served. I’ll leave restaurant photography to the millennial’s.

Eggs Benedict Bloody Mary

Eggs Benedict and a Bloody Mary

Oh well … I’ve never shied away from a challenge. So I’ll keep plugging away at the genre of still life – food photography … and Al will continue to suffer through the eating and drinking!

Wandering Wednesday Photo Theme – Food

For this weeks photo prompt … theme … inspiration, let’s share images of Food. Perhaps you have a favorite restaurant or recipe you’d like to share. I know I can always use a little food inspiration. So share and connect – leave a comment down below with a link to your blog or link back on your post. And if you have any secrets when it comes to taking great photographs of food … I am all ears!

Carrot Cake Recipe

If I’m going to call something “the best ever”, I think it only fair to share the recipe of this indulgent carrot cake that I make only once a year. Carrots may be healthy and low in calories, but cake isn’t 🤣 You’ve been warned … enjoy!

Indulgent Carrot Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Easy carrot cakeFor the cake
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots
3 1/3 ounces unsweetened coconut (1 1/6 cup)
1 small can crushed pineapple (don’t drain)
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula mix in carrots, coconut, pineapple with juice, and walnuts. Add remaining ingredients, mixing with spatula until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour into a greased 9×13 baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar

With a hand mixer, beat together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Add half the sugar and continue creaming. Add a quarter of the remaining sugar and continue mixing. Once thoroughly combined, add remaining sugar a little at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Spread frosting on COOLED cake.

Recipe by Ingrid @LiveLaughRV.com

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Photo Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this prompt will serve as a little inspiration for you to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy 🤗 share and connect! Post your photo anytime between now and next Wednesday when a new theme will be shared.

Upcoming prompts – Landscapes, Garden, Birds …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

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Items in my kitchen used to make the carrot cake (affiliate links)
 Rectangular Pan
6-Speed Hand Mixer
Silicone Spatulas

RV Maintenance Made Easy

Our RV is getting older, and as such, she’s needing a little maintenance and updating. Hmm, couldn’t we all? 🤣 At least twice a year, Al and I head up to the roof of the RV to check things out. More frequent visits would probably be even better, but when we’re confronted with landscapes that are so stunningly beautiful and beg to be explored, who wants to work on RV projects?

Grand Tetons National Park

Grand Tetons National Park is stunningly beautiful. We visited June and again in July of 2016 and can’t wait to return to this picturesque place.

But regular RV maintenance is necessary, and most projects aren’t very difficult; therefore, there’s really no excuse. With that said, it is something we consciously try to make a priority if we want to keep the RV in tip-top shape. Thus, the travel and exploring gets put on hold temporarily while we dive into maintenance projects.

So, up on the roof we go. After checking all the vents, caulking, and general condition of the roof, Al and I determine that the sewer vent caps should be replaced. One cap is severely cracked while the other looks compromised. We’re not sure if they were damaged by hail or a tree branch. Regardless, we’ll replace both caps.

For this post, I’ve partnered with a great RV parts company called Road & Home. Although we’ve received some free goodies from them, all opinions regarding their products are my own. We first discovered Road and Home products during a shopping trip to the local Lowe’s.

how to replace a RV roof vent cap on a rubber roof

What a surprise – Lowe’s carries the RV roof vent cap we needed

RV maintenance made easy

It was a Sunday afternoon, and since most RV dealerships in Arizona are closed on Sundays, we headed to Lowe’s for some general plumbing fittings. We’ve had a tiny fresh water leak in our storage bay that only leaks during the clean water flushing stage of dumping our black tank. It wasn’t an urgent repair, but a needed repair nonetheless. A new fitting should fix up the leak, so off to Lowe’s we go.

Lowe’s had everything we needed to fix the plumbing leak, but much to our surprise (a pleasant surprise), they even had the sewer vent caps that we needed for the roof of the RV. We didn’t even realize Lowe’s carried any RV parts, but there we were standing in front of a large display filled with a variety of RV products from Road and Home.

How to repair a RV

A whole display of RV related parts by Road and Home at Lowe’s

Fifteen minutes later, along with half a dozen products in our shopping cart, it was time to head back to the RV to get to work. With storms expected in the next few days, first and foremost was replacing the roof vent caps.

How to replace a RV sewer vent cap on a rubber roof

Step #1 – The first step is to gently remove the existing vent from the rubber roof. After removing any visible screws, snap off the top cap. With a blow dryer, heat the existing caulk and with a plastic putty knife, gently pry and separate the caulk from the rubber roof. You’ll want to be extremely careful not to rip the rubber roof which is why we don’t recommend using a metal putty knife. This process might be a little slow going, but be patient … we don’t want to compromise the integrity of the rubber roof by damaging it.

how to replace a RV rubber roof vent cap

Gently remove the existing caulk using a blow dryer to heat the caulk

how to replace a RV roof vent on a rubber roof

Step #2 – Once the old caulk is removed, use a soft clean cloth to wash the area, making sure the surface around the sewer vent pipe is clean. We just used plain water, no soap.

Once the area is dry, lay down a layer of plumber’s putty. We already had a roll of RV sealant/putty in our tool box.

how to replace a RV roof vent

Putting down a layer of plumbers putty/sealant

Step #3 – Now it’s time to screw down the bottom section of the vent and install the top cap. The top cap snaps on and there’s one screw on top to hold the cap down.how to replace a RV vent on a rubber roof

how to replace a RV roof vent on a rubber roof

 

Step #4 – Now comes the cake decorating portion of the install … otherwise known as caulking. This is when I (aka cake decorator) step in to finish up the job. Using Dicor lap sealant with a caulking gun, I liberally apply a large amount of sealant around the base of the vent, and use the plastic putty knife to help spread out the sealant. This stuff is not normal caulk and may take a little practice to make it look somewhat close to factory install. The tube may say self-leveling, but that doesn’t mean self-smoothing!

how to replace a roof vent on a RV with a rubber roof

This is as good as it’s going to get! Dicor sealant is gooey, sticky and a total pain to work with, but oh so necessary.

Final thoughts

Although replacing both RV roof sewer vent caps was a little time consuming and tedious, overall it was a relatively easy DIY project. Thank you, Road and Home, for making this RV maintenance project even easier with the convenience of being able to buy everything we needed at Lowe’s (available on Amazon too).

how to replace RV roof vent caps

Ta-Da! Our RV roof with two new vent caps installed

monsoon season in Arizona

With monsoon season officially here in Arizona, our RV roof project was timed perfectly.

(This post is meant for entertainment purposes. Please follow all manufacture recommended guidelines.This post contains sponsored content and affiliate links. For for full disclosure click here)
Road & Home Push/Pull Drain Stopper
Road & Home Roof Vent Cap
Road & Home Shower Faucet
Road & Home Plastic Hose Shut-Off